Editor’s Note: Here are some of the key coronavirus and COVID-19 claims that our readers would like to have tested against the research results. We asked these public health and infectious disease experts to explain this.
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1. Is herd immunity a good strategy?
Herd immunity is not part of the Australian outbreak response strategy. On social media, many people are demanding stronger and faster government responses, including “turn everything off”. There is a particular demand for school closures that are currently out of the question in Australia.
Some have claimed that the Australian government has plans to rely on “herd immunity” to control the outbreak. That’s not the case.
The decision not to close schools is based on data from China, which shows that there are no signs that children and adolescents play a role in “transmission chains”. In addition, closing schools without making similar arrangements for working parents can result in grandparents taking care of children, whom we must protect at all costs from exposure to the virus. This could also have a significant impact on healthcare workers, many of whom have school-age children.
The development of immunity is an important issue for the long-term treatment of COVID-19, the coronavirus at the heart of the pandemic. Eventually, many people who become infected with the virus become immune, and this helps control its spread. This is not part of the Australian government’s strategy, and the UK government has made it clear that this is not its policy either.
Clinical experience shows that people with mild illnesses can develop immunity around seven to ten days after symptoms appear. Immunity is measured by monitoring the immune cells that fight the virus. When these cells emerged, the virus was no longer found in nasal swabs, suggesting that immunity can also reduce infectivity.
2. Can drinking lots of water, gargling with warm water and salt or vinegar eliminate the virus? What about lemon in hot water or other home remedies?
Myth. Many people have asked what they can do to “boost their immune systems”, and there is no shortage of quacks and scammers who are happy to answer this question.
Hot drinks with lemon and honey, vitamin supplements, foods with garlic and ginger, apple cider vinegar, gargling with salt water … none of these things affect your immune response and do not eliminate the virus.
But if it makes you feel calmer and healthier, it can’t hurt. (Except sticking vinegar in the nose – this is not a good time.)
Other myths say that the virus cannot survive above 27 ° C (80.6 ° F). We can say that this is wrong with a moment’s thought as it can work in our body at 37.5 ° C.
Some have claimed that drinking various beverages helps flush out the virus, but the virus does its work in cells. However, hot water with lemon will help you stay hydrated so it doesn’t hurt.
3. Do blood pressure medications make the disease worse?
Myth. Nobody should stop taking medication unless recommended by their doctor.
There has been recent speculation that some blood pressure medications that target a protein called ACE2 may worsen the course of infection, as the virus targets this protein as well.
In response, the European Cardiologists Society made a strong statement that there is no evidence to support these concerns and that it could cause serious harm if people stop taking their blood pressure medication.
4. What about nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen?
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen also bind to this protein. In France, some doctors found that a number of patients in the intensive care unit had taken these drugs. It is not clear whether these patients were at higher risk of admission to the intensive care unit under other conditions or whether the NSAIDs were the only risk factor.
This is hotly debated and we can expect to hear more about it.
5. Can the virus live on surfaces for nine days?
We have no data on COVID-19, although this is likely to be investigated.
A review of studies examining viruses similar to SARS and MERS found that virus particles on surfaces can persist for some time – possibly up to nine days. This depends on a number of factors, such as: B. the type of material, temperature and humidity and possibly even how much of the virus was deposited.
Alcohol-based products have been shown to be effective in removing viruses from surfaces. Wiping surfaces, washing your hands, and avoiding touching your face remain the best things you can do.
6. Isn’t hand disinfectant as effective as water and soap?
ON scientifically funny fact was spread on Twitter, saying that soap is better than alcohol to destroy the lipid layer that surrounds the virus particles.
In fact, both soap and alcohol break apart virus particles, but in different ways. Washing hands also works because it washes viral particles from our hands.
Whether you use alcohol or soap is not really important – make sure you wash your hand frequently and thoroughly.
7. Is Australia the next Italy?
Unlikely. There were lively stories about the heartbreaking situation in parts of northern Italy.
However, the lack of testing in Italy makes it difficult to know whether the outbreak of COVID-19 will be comparable to ours. Australia introduced safeguards much earlier than Italy, including relocations and quarantine for Australians exposed to the virus on cruise ships. It is important that disease control is based on the facts about our own epidemic.
There is no doubt that the COVID 19 outbreak will push our healthcare system to its limits – but we have no good reason to fear that it will be as bad as stories from Italy.
8. Does COVID-19 only kill sick people and the elderly?
Nah. Based on experience in China and Italy, experts have questioned the belief that serious illnesses and mortality only affect older people and people with other serious illnesses. Older people are at the highest risk for serious diseases, but the risk for younger people is not zero.
In any case, people in older age groups are valued and very important members of our community and nobody sees them as expendable. We can all protect them by following prevention recommendations and isolating ourselves if we have reason to believe that we were exposed.
9. Can the coronavirus spread through food?
It depends on whether someone coughs at your food or shares your spoon.
Corona virus spreads via droplet transmission. If someone coughs or sneezes without a mask, droplets of saliva and mucus can fall within a meter or two of the sick person. Most transmission occurs when these droplets get into your mouth, nose, or eyes. This is why hand hygiene and avoiding touching your face is so important.
If you are near someone with coronavirus and they cough up about your food, it may make you sick. Sharing cutlery or glasses with people with coronavirus could spread the infection, as heard in ABC 7.30. However, you are unlikely to catch any of the avocado you get out of a basket at Woolies as a consolation prize after missing toilet paper.
Trent Yarwood is an infectious disease doctor, lecturer at James Cook University and the University of Queensland
Ben Harris-Roxas is an associate professor at UNSW
Daniel Reeders is a PhD student at the ANU School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) at the Australian National University
Kathryn Snow is an epidemiologist at the University of Melbourne
This article was originally published on The Conversation and is republished with permission